Obama Offers Details
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Sen. Barack Obama said Friday that as president he would impose a Social Security tax increase on people making more than $250,000 a year as part of an effort to extend the program's solvency without cutting benefits or raising the retirement age.
Currently, taxes funding Social Security end once a worker reaches $102,000 in earnings, a ceiling that is indexed to inflation. Workers and employees share the cost, with each contributing 6.2 percent. Under Obama's plan, which the presumptive Democratic nominee outlined at a retirement community here, there would be a "doughnut hole" on earnings between $102,000 and $250,000 where no additional taxes are paid.
Obama has spoken of such a concept before, but Friday marked the first time he had set a threshold for imposing new taxes. Obama was vague on whether that figure would apply only to payroll income.
Obama said the change "can extend the promise of Social Security without shifting the burden on to seniors" while leaving "absolutely no change" in taxes for 97 percent of Americans.
During a one-hour discussion with the retirees, Obama tweaked Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, for having once expressed interest in a payroll tax increase and President Bush's plan to create private investment accounts for retirees.
McCain, speaking in New Jersey on Friday, called Social Security "broken" and denied that he would "privatize" Social Security. But he acknowledged wanting "younger workers only" to contribute "a few of their tax dollars" and "put it into an account with their name on it."
-- Glenn Kessler
McCain Will Be Calling
Sen. John McCain is reaching out to Sen. Hillary Clinton's supporters this weekend, holding a conference call on Saturday with disenchanted Democrats who do not want to get behind Sen. Barack Obama.